Er­do­gan shares Ra­mazan din­ner with Turk­ish trans star

Pakistan Observer - - PAGE -

IS­TAN­BUL—Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan shared a Ra­mazan din­ner with Turkey’s best-known trans­gen­der celebrity hours af­ter riot po­lice broke up an LGBT rally in Is­tan­bul, pic­tures dis­trib­uted by his of­fice on Mon­day showed.

The con­ser­va­tive pres­i­dent and his head­scarf-clad wife on Sun­day shared their tra­di­tional if­tar meal at the end of the Mus­lim fast­ing day with a group of artists in­clud­ing Turk­ish trans celebrity and ac­tress Bu­lent Er­soy.

Pho­tos dis­trib­uted by Er­do­gan’s of­fice show the cou­ple shar­ing a meal with “The Diva”, as Er­soy is known in Turkey, at the of­fi­cial pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence in the Is­tan­bul sub­urb of Tarabya.

Er­soy, 64, un­der­went sex re­as­sign­ment surgery in Lon­don in the 1980s. She be­came a celebrity but also faced ver­bal and even phys­i­cal at­tacks at home.

Ear­lier on Sun­day, Is­tan­bul riot po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas to pre­vent a “Trans Pride” event tak­ing place dur­ing Ra­madan.

Sev­eral hun­dred riot po­lice sur­rounded the main Tak­sim Square — where demon­stra­tions have been banned since ma­jor anti-govern­ment protests in 2013 — to stop the protest from tak­ing place.

The demon­stra­tors un­furled a rain­bow flag, a sym­bol of the LGBT (les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der) com­mu­nity, and then tried to read a state­ment but were pre­vented from do­ing so by the po­lice.

Is­tan­bul au­thor­i­ties said on Fri­day they had banned the an­nual gay pride pa­rade set for June 26 to “safe­guard se­cu­rity and public or­der” af­ter a string of bomb­ings around Turkey over the past year, some of them blamed on the Is­lamic State group, oth­ers claimed by Kur­dish mil­i­tants.

Crit­ics have ac­cused Er­do­gan of lead­ing a creep­ing Is­lami­sa­tion in Turkey since he came to power as pre­mier in 2003, un­der­min­ing the sec­u­lar foun­da­tions of the mod­ern repub­lic.

He has re­peat­edly an­noyed ac­tivists with his com­ments on sex and fam­ily plan­ning, but has gen­er­ally steered clear of pub­licly com­ment­ing on gay is­sues.

On Twit­ter, some Turks crit­i­cised Er­do­gan for din­ing with the trans star just af­ter po­lice broke up the rally.

“This coun­try has be­come a real cir­cus,” wrote one user.

“This means you can be trans if you don’t protest,” wrote an­other.

“Er­do­gan is fine with you so long as you are pro-Er­do­gan,” wrote a third.—AFP

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